How to Raise Funds? – An introductory guide - European Activism Incubator
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How to Raise Funds

How to Raise Funds? – An introductory guide

Fundraising is a vast domain with a lot of specificities -starting with the vocabulary, which can be confusing at times. In this article, we share a range of tips as an introduction to fundraising, a “fundraising for dummies”, if you like. 


We start with demystifying fundraising jargon, then take you through the steps that will help you determine whether you have found a good donor and funding match, and we finish by sharing a series of tips for writing a winning grant proposal.

Part 1: Fundraising dictionary


Part 2: Donor match and funding match


Part 3: Grant proposal

Part 1: Fundraising dictionary

Endowment | An investment fund established by a foundation or trust, that then makes consistent withdrawals, generally from the interest generated by the invested capital.


Grant | A financial allocation from a foundation, corporation, or government agency towards non-profits, research bodies or other organization to carry out a specific project


Grantee | The beneficiary of a grant, aka you.


Donor | An individual, a corporation, a foundation or a government providing financial support to further your organization’s mission or cause.


Trustee | Someone managing the assets in a charitable trust and distributing them to designated charities according to the trust owner’s wishes.


Proposal | A  request for money to complete a project and/or for organisational support.


Public interest charity/foundation | A philanthropic organization with broad public support relying on funding such as public subsidies, individual donations or from private foundations, and which supports nonprofit organizations and causes.


Private foundation | An organization originally funded from one source, that derives revenue from earnings on its investments, and that makes grants to other charitable organizations as opposed to administering its own programs. 

Part 2: Donor match and funding match

Donor match


Before applying for a grant, check that:

  • this foundation’s ethical values match yours;
  • your board would support this partnership;
  • the partnership would represent a win-win (mutual benefit).


Funding match


Foundations and other donors often have grant schemes with specific criteria. This means that they offer funds to address:


  • specific issues (e.g. protecting nature, child education, research etc.);
  • benefiting certain (groups of) people (e.g. youth, women, ethnic groups…);
  • in a certain place i.e. geographical region or countries;
  • for certain activities (providing certain services, education and training, meals, art project, carrying out research…);
  • by formal or informal organizations (a feminist collective, a research institute, an international NGO, a local school…);
  • and for a certain type of expense (project vs. operational activities).


Further requirements


  • Percentage of funding | Sometimes donors cover only a certain % of the direct costs. If, for example, it says it covers 50% of funding, and that your application budget is €2K for direct project costs, you are only eligible for €1K. 

The remaining amount must come from another source e.g. another donor or your own funds.


  • Partnership requirements | It means you can only apply if you partner with other organizations. There may be a requirement on the number of partners, the type of organizations they must be and/or their geographical location e.g. a youth movement and a university or 2 from different countries.


  • Matching funds requirements | This means that the donor requires that the grantee finds another donor that also agrees to make a donation (i.e. matching the funds). The amount varies and is usually requested in % of requested support.


To conclude, make sure you read all the criteria carefully and that you meet all the requirements. Check the calls for proposals and don’t miss the deadlines!

Part 3: Grant proposal

Prior to the proposal


It is good to interact with the donor’s content on social media. See what conversations they drive, what they care about. Check with your network if you can establish personal contact with a staff member. 


About the form


  • Use concise and clear English
  • Bullet points are good for clarity
  • Getting a bit personal is OK, you want the donor to get to know you
  • Don’t try to sell too hard – it is not a business pitch! That said, you can mention the word ‘invest’ or ‘return on investment’ 


About the content


1. Introduction 
  • Name of the project and/or name of the organization
  • Start and -if applicable- end date
  • Background about the project/organization (that’s where the storytelling is welcome!)

2. Needs Statement

A short yet convincing overview of the needs you want to address with the project. Include a brief description of the context to help the reader understand what is at stake and why it is important. When outlining the problem/needs, use updated, correct and relevant facts to underpin your statement.


3. Objectives and goals
  • What will you do to address the identified needs?

Break down your goals into measurable objectives.
Goals: concepts or ideal situations not necessarily measurable
Objectives: tangible and measurable outcomes that you want to achieve in a given time.


4. Methodology and timetable
  • How and when the objectives are going to be achieved?
  • By whom?

Be very clear, specific and realistic concerning the methods, timetable and human resources. Be upfront about the challenges and explain how you intend to address them. It will help convince the donor of your expertise and credibility.


5. Evaluation
  • How will you measure your impact and success?

Provide information on how monitoring and assessment will be carried out. Define who will conduct the evaluation, when, and how they will report the results.


6. Funding/budget

That section should state:

  • The total cost of the project
  • What resources are already available (including income)
  • Which resources are missing


A typical budget includes staff; cost of travel/meetings; equipment, facilities (e.g. rent); printing and dissemination of materials; telephone; postage and accounting services.


7. Future funding plans

That means the financial resources you will need to continue the project once the requested support has ended and how you plan to obtain these resources but also future hopes and expectations.


To conclude: be rigorous and precise but also show some heart! 


In the end, the success of fundraising has many variables: how well-thought-out, meaningful and impactful your project is, how interesting and effective you present yourself as an organization; how attentive you are to criteria and deadlines… and, just as importantly, how connected you are. Remember that forming and nurturing relationships with donors is crucial and must be a consistent priority. Networking and establishing real-life relations with the right people will ensure both short-term and long-term benefits, such as the possibility to be the first informed of upcoming funding opportunities.


We invite you to subscribe to our newsletter (find a subscription box at the bottom of the page) to be updated about events and training on fundraising organized by European Activism Incubator. 


Best of luck with your fundraising efforts, from the Incubator!



  • Asim Nawaz khan

    19.07.2021 at 07:47 Reply

    we are from Pakistan working on women and transgender rights. Can we have a detailed of this resource?

    • EAI services

      19.07.2021 at 15:47 Reply

      Dear Asim,

      Thank you for your comment! To help us respond to your question, please specify your enquiry by providing more details about your work and exactly what information you are looking for.

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